The fine long dry spell that we had for most of October has finally broken and winter is beginning to settle in. It was the best spell of weather all summer ! It gave us time to tidy up the garden and get on top of jobs that had needed to have been done for some time and now the main jobs in the garden at the moment revolve on keeping the place looking somewhat tidy and respectable for the winter.

1. Fallen leaves should be removed weekly from the lawn until they have all finished falling. If they are allowed to accumulate they will cause bare patches in the lawn and will encourage moss growth so rake them off whenever you get a chance. These fallen leaves will make great compost if you can pile them up where they won’t blow away again. By spring time you will be able to dig them into the garden soil for extra nutrition for your trees and shrubs. Grass growth in the lawn has continued later this year due to the relatively mild conditions and could do with a trim before winter finally sets in, but the ground is too wet at the moment and mowing would only cause more damage so wait for a dry spell and give the lawn a light cutting just to tidy up the uneven growth. This mowing will also help pick up fallen leaves.
2. Keep a check on trees around the garden to make sure they are secure in the ground and if unsteady support them by staking. Remove broken branches and limbs with a saw or loppers to obtain a clean cut to prevent rotting.
3. Tidy up the shrub bed at the same time as carrying out pruning. Remember not to prune spring flowering shrubs at this point as you will be removing all their flower buds.
4. Tidy up decaying vegetation from the vege. garden and apply Farm Yard Manure and/or sea weed so it can break down over the winter ready for digging in during the spring.
5. There is still time for planting up spring flowering bulbs in the garden. Regular Daffodils and Tulips can be planted up amongst the Shrubs and crocus, dwarf Tulips and Miniature Narcissi can be used in window boxes and patio containers closer to the house.
6. The summer flowering plants in the patio containers have lasted in many cases right into November but are finally come to an end and have survived much longer this year due to the mild autumn. So, now is a good time to attack them, tidy up and replant. It’s hard to get such a good display for the winter but a winter display can be obtained by using Winter flowering Heathers, Winter Pansy, Primrose, Mini Cyclamen and Solanum mixed with trailing Ivy, Gaulthera and Skimmia or a dwarf Conifer. Another strong weather resistant flowering plant to use in a larger pots near the house is one of the Hellebores. The smaller, H. niger is commonly called the Christmas Rose, is a low growing perennial with low growing thick green leaves and sends up small anemone type white flowers even in the thick of winter snow. Other varieties can grow up to 30 -40 cm high and are equally as weather resistant with white or pinkish flowers. All patio plantings can be done in conjunction with spring flowering bulbs for an added burst of colour from February on.
7. With winter approaching the birds in the garden will find it harder to find food themselves so to help them out set up a bird feeding station in your garden that would be safe from cats. Hanging feeders will prevent larger Crows and Magpies from steeling all the food at the expense of the smaller birds. On a bird table an up turned wire frame of a hanging basket can act as a defence from these larger birds as well.
8. And then by the end of November, the Christmas trees will be beginning to appear. The Noble and Nordmund Fir, ‘Non Shedding’ varieties of Xmas trees will last for weeks inside with minimal loss of needles and are fine for those wishing to start decorating early for xmas to make the most of it. Use a tree stand that has a water holder in it as a supply of water to the base of the tree will keep it looking fresher for longer. Keep this container topped up with water. Christmas trees are also available with their roots on so you can have a living tree that can be planted outside into the garden after the Christmas festivities are over. There are a range of evergreen conifers suitable for this purpose that are available in the garden centre.
9. There is also a wide range of flowering house plants that can be used to add colour and a natural touch to your house decorations which we will be stocking out in the garden centre and we will be discussing these next month . Hyacinth, Azalea, Cyclamen, Solanum, Capsicum, Amarylus, Orchids and of course the Poinsettia are now all part and parcel of xmas decorations.
10. In the garden centre we also have a wide range of Tree lights, battery lights, candles and decorations as well as a selection of gardening gift ideas so drop in to see our CHRISTMAS SHOP. This year’s edition of the KENMARE CHRONICLE will also be available ! Happy Gardening, Hoe, Hoe, Hoe !!